A transgender woman injected bleach into her testicles and attempted to remove her own scrotum after allegedly being denied hormone treatment while in a male prison, an MP has told the House of Commons.
Cat Smith, the Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, said the anonymous prisoner had been a "victim of rape and sexual assault" while incarcerated and was not able to continue the healthcare and medical appointments she had been having as part of her transition.
"She is a very vulnerable prisoner, with recorded serious attempts of self-harm, and attempts at suicide," Smith told parliament during a debate on the treatment of transgender prisoners. "She began the transition process in 2008, and formalised her intention to remain living as a woman for the remainder of her lifetime in 2012."
The MP went on to quote from a letter she had received from the prisoner: “There is no knowledge of how suicidal I am because they don’t care what impact their choices have on me physically and psychologically. I’m totally destroyed, not the woman I was. I feel I will kill myself soon. I cannot do this now. Please will you help me? I cannot take no more – I’m a woman in a male prison. This is not right.”
Smith claimed the prisoner was still being denied access to her private hormone treatment, despite having won a court case on this matter at the end of October and having the backing of her local MP. "While she continues to be denied the right to surgery and to be moved to a female prison establishment, she remains extremely vulnerable and at a very high risk of harm," Smith said.
"Examples of her self-harm have included injecting bleach into her testicles and attempting self-surgery to remove her scrotum."
Smith's intervention and decision to hold the debate follows increased coverage of the treatment of transgender prisoners. Last month a vigil was held after Vicky Thompson, who identified as a woman, was found dead in an all-male prison.
Caroline Dinenage, minister for equalities, said she accepted the "current system may not sufficiently address the needs of transgender prisoners" and said a forthcoming government review would reform how transgender prisoners are treated.
She said reporting of some recent cases has been "rather wide of the mark in some parts" but insisted the government had the "utmost commitment to the care and management of transgender prisoners".
Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Jim Waterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.